Whether you're a college or professional football fan, you probably start getting very excited for football season well in advance of kick off day.
College students and adults alike anticipate the first game of each football season with an eager expectation for some good, competitive football.
But if you're in recovery, you may have mixed feelings about the upcoming football season. If this is your first football season where your intention is to stay sober and clean, you may have some reservations. After all, you've probably spent a good deal of time at tailgate parties and hanging out with the buddies having some brewskies while watching the game. To think about not drinking at all during the football season may bring on some anxiety and may even cause you to feel a bit sad.
Rest assured that it is possible to stay sober during the football season. It may require some planning and some sort of support network, but you can continue your recovery and have an excellent time watching all of the games.
Today let's look at how you can tackle the upcoming football season while in recovery.
Create a sober football strategy
A little bit of preparation and planning goes a long way. As you think about the football season, it will serve you well to create a game-day strategy, as this will decrease your chances of relapsing. Plan now for those times where you’re sitting there thinking how good a beer would taste or when your friend offers you a drink.
You may have to make some changes as to how you go about watching the games. If you're used to watching the football games in a bar with your friends, you may want to find a new meeting place that does not serve alcohol. If you're new in recovery, being in a bar maybe too much of a temptation for you. Once you're there and you're in the moment cheering for your favorite team, you may not be able to say no.
If you are attending an establishment with your friends and there will be alcohol present, consider attending a recovery meeting before the game. If you have a sponsor, be sure that you have that sponsor’s phone number handy in case the temptation is becoming too much for you during the game. You can make a quick phone call and allow your sponsor to give you support to get you through.
As an alternative to heading out to watch the games, perhaps you can have your friends over to your home and have a non-alcoholic gathering. Rooting for your favorite team can be fun anywhere!
Take a non-alcoholic drink with you
Whether you're staying at home or meeting others out for the big game, consider taking a non-alcohol drink with you. There are some non-alcoholic beers to choose from, but you can take other drinks like sweet tea, lemonade, soda, Kombucha, water, etc. Having your own little cooler full of drinks that you like may help you in not reaching for an alcoholic drink.
Surround yourself with a sober support network
If you're in recovery, it will help you to surround yourself with those who support your recovery. If you attend a 12-step meeting, consider getting a sponsor and making a couple of friends in recovery. You can always get together with these friends in watching the games. If you are hanging out with your old buddies, it can be helpful to have a support network to lean on. Being in recovery doesn't mean you have to give up your old friends who can be social drinkers. But having a plan and a strategy for game day can help decrease your temptation to drink.
Be honest with your friends
If you continue to celebrate football game day with your pals, be honest with them about your decision not to drink. Chances are they already know that you've had issues with drinking in the past. But even if they don't, do not feel any shame in telling them that you're in recovery now and you desire to live life without drinking alcohol. You don't have to offer them any other reasons or excuses. You'd be surprised how many people will understand this and commend you for your decision.
Keep your focus on addiction recovery
During football season, consider increasing your focus on recovery. If getting together to watch a football game is a trigger for you, be sure that you're spending time each day on your recovery. This could mean reading a morning meditation that encourages you in recovery. Or it could mean attending several 12-step meetings per week. Or perhaps you could watch some YouTube videos that will inspire and encourage you to stay sober.
When you're not focused on recovery, the desire to drink can come back rather easy. It's sort of like you forget why you stopped drinking in the first place. Alcoholism is a sly and cunning disease. Before you know it, your brain may have you thinking that you can have a drink or two and all will be well. It somehow erases the memories of you getting so drunk that you said and did things that you regret. Or all the times that you promised yourself you would stop drinking because it was ruining your life.
Consistent focus on recovery will serve you well. During the football season, go ahead and increase your focus and you should be just fine. You can have fun and celebrate your favorite football teams without having to take a drink. Think about all the times that you had fun as a child and teenager without drinking. You probably had some amazing times. This goes to show that you don't need alcohol to laugh and enjoy people and experiences.
If you find yourself struggling during this football season, reach out for help. Perhaps seeing an addictions counselor for a while will help you and decrease your cravings for alcohol. Or think about increasing the number of meetings you go to each week. Or getting together with your sponsor or a mentor regularly.
You do not have to allow the temptations that come with the football season to overtake you. Be proud of how far you've come in recovery and continue to celebrate!